More Than A Little Impressed: Little River Canyon

After a couple of days hiking around Desoto Falls State Park, I decided to saunter down to Little River Canyon based on recommendations of several National Park Rangers. Here’s a link to the official park site: http://goo.gl/KZmvVUnfortunately, my first impression of Little River Canyon  was “meh”. So gather round, grasshoppers, and learn from my experience… The winding roads around / into the canyon are fun to drive. But some are seriously steep. We’re talking >30% grade. I prayed a couple of times my FWD car would make it up the hills, but driving down was ‘weeeeeeeee!”

I arrived at the Little River Canyon Mouth Picnic Area on Sunday afternoon. Let’s just say that this location is frequented almost exclusively by “locals”. For the long-ass drive down, my initial thought of “this is it?” was dead-on. There are picnic tables, grills, and a lot of people fishing and swimming and cussing and smoking. I walked away from the main area, and hiked along the shore. I found lots of tiny spiders

and toads smaller than my pinky fingernail:

Some flowers:These shots are incredibly flattering. 

Honestly, pass on this section… the “good stuff” is above Eberhart Point. (See map in above link) I was planning on camping at one of the 3 backcountry sites, but for the life of me, could not figure out where the h*ll they were from the maps. My GPS needed cities, and they were unmarked. I got a completely different map about LR from the Desoto Park folks. Here’s the link to the permitted camping sites: http://goo.gl/SsV3b Please pay CLOSE attention – after a conversation with a rather unhelpful ranger (who parked in a handicapped spot), you *really* need 4WD with HIGH clearance to get to/from these sites. And if there’s been a good rain… bring a tow rope. The roads get ugly.

So I ended up camping at True Adventure Sports (TAS) campground that is near mile marker 9. Small, primitive, and a bargain for $5. Here’s a link to their campsite page: http://goo.gl/eKAbu I was somewhat worried about ALL the crotch rockets and loud cars going by, but they ended well before dark. (The Canyon Mouth Picnic area closes at 8pm). It was completely quiet all night long. The only complaint I had about the place (for me) was parking. I suck at parking. Trying to back in to unload my gear was a challenge. IF I had someone with me to guide me, would have been a totally different experience. Israel, the operator, is a really nice guy who was very responsive and a plethora of information about the area. They are doing some major expansions and improvements so keep them in mind when visiting the area.

If you’re an early riser, cross the road to watch the sunrise over the canyon. 

I got up Monday morning, and headed along the rim to take in the various overlooks. (100x better than the lower section). Apologies for the lighting of the pictures, I was often shooting directly into the sunlight… 

First stop was Grace’s Falls (which is seasonal). That meant you could see a damp spot where the falls should be. Still a nice view. It is one of the highest falls in Alabama, and it is fed by Bear Creek.

Next, was Crow Point, which was rather ironic because there was no signs of Crows, only a vulture. I’ve never had an opportunity to take such a close shot of one perching. There is a bit of a walk from the parking area to the actual point, but it is worth the walk.A hint, when facing the canyon, look to your left, you’ll see a trail that extends beyond the fencing – lovely views (of course there is no fence) but I enjoyed the views from the area a lot more.

Following was Wolf Creek – it offered additional views of the Canyon. It was interesting to notice the differences in foilage & erosions. I particularly found the fracturing of the rocks captivating.

Beyond that was Canyon View stop. It offered some nice vistas. 

Hawk’s Glide was next.

I saw no hawks, crows, or vultures. But quite a few lizards:This guy was rather well crammed in the crevice:

And this one was well-camoflagued:But this guy, I named “Lorenzo” was a total poseur for the camera:Then passed by Mushroom Rock – which was rather amusing to have the road divided so we can just drive by to take pictures. 

Lynn Overlook was next. It has a very large parking area and picnic tables. The views were “eh”. No restrooms there, so watch where you walk. Quite a bit of garbage.

Just across from Lynn Overlook is the Beaver Pond Trailhead. I did not hike the trail. Per the park data, it is a moderate loop trail that is 1.8 miles.

The Little RIver Falls Overlook gives a tease of what is ahead. (Don’t bother walking down the boardwalk). Best views are to the left of the Boardwalk. Most of my pics are from following a trail visible there. They have a picnic table or 2 at this location as well…Then you’ll continue to the right to the LIttle River Falls Parking area. It’s newly-paved, restrooms. Nice picnic area. Newly renovated path to Little River Falls where you can look at the falls from below. Once you walk back to the walkway,take a left and walk along the fence to the “River Access” sign. You go down some rather rugged stone stairs to the actual river above the falls. Lots of people were walking right up to the falls – and I saw pictures of people swimming below the falls over the weekend. The water levels were rather low, There was a fair amount of trash/broken glass – so please wear shoes in water & around trail.

Up Next… A section that requires a whole posting of its own.
I’ll upload GPX of my drive with waypoints for the various stops, and overlooks.  

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